Candy, Puppies & Bitter Sweet Symphony
As a kid I LOVED candy. After a weekend of skiing 🎿at Butternut, before we drove back to Connecticut, my dad would give me $1 to spend on penny 💲 candy at the Jenifer House, a roadside tourist destination with historic red-painted barns in Great Barrington, MA.
It was almost my favorite part of the weekend because I loved figuring out how to best optimize my $1 and make it stretch. It was like solving a puzzle 🧩. Buying expensive candy that I loved, vs. buying as much candy as I could. The key was keeping the total at exactly $1 — not going over and definitely not wanting to get back any change.
Later in high school and college, I automatically learned how to balance my #money between going out to lunch with my friends, gas for my car, and you guessed it — buying candy as a treat.
Learning how to #budget as a young kid is a vital life skill that will help you be a more financially responsible adult and a more savvy investor. Because I learned how to keep my expenses low, live within my means, and make decisions about what was important to spend my money on, I have never worried or stressed about money. Instead, I try to use it as a reward.
As soon as your kids start working and earning money of their own: have them put their savings on autopilot and follow the 20% rule.
Warren Buffett 👴 said this, but it also reminds me of something that Yoda from Star ⭐Wars could have said: “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after #saving.”
What Compound Interest & Puppies Have In Common
Albert Einstein once made this witty observation: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn't … pays it.”
To understand the power of compounding, imagine you start out with $10,000 to invest. You put in it a low-fee exchange-traded fund (ETF) that mirrors the S&P 500 index, which historically averages a 10% return. You keep adding $500 per month, and you do this for 30 years.
At the end of 30 years, you will have contributed about $190,000 total. But thanks to the power of compound interest, you will have more than $1.3 million! That’s because you’ve continued to accumulate more money on the money you’ve already previously made from your investments — over and over again for three decades.
The sooner you start investing, the more time your money has to grow and compound, and some people understand this conceptually but still don’t act on it. Here’s a great calculator from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that you can use to see how compound interest works.
It’s not just money that compounds. Think about it.
Dogs compound when you breed them and sell their puppies. Most people don’t get their dogs knocked-up.
Personal brand compounds when you create compelling content on LinkedIn and other social media channels. Most people don’t bother to do this.
Many people suffer from inertia, or getting stuck on autopilot in their lives.
Remember Newton’s first law of motion: “A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest.”
If you are not growing in your career or if you lack operating or negotiating leverage in your job, then your personal brand and/or money has to work harder. That means you have to get smarter about investing in yourself personally and professionally.
But some investments can be huge headaches and some can be nice winners. How can you tell the difference?
Bitter Sweet Symphony
Investing can be bittersweet because it has some happy aspects mixed in with some sad ones. There will always be some losses sprinkled among the wins, and you have to accept that.
Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve is one of my all-time favorite songs. l love the contrast in the music, a pop song with violins and orchestra music.
In today’s toppy market, do you purchase a vacation house where you can create lasting memories with your family?
Do you forgo that purchase and instead invest the money for your retirement and future security?
You have to think about it and decide: Is the cost and financial stress of owning and maintaining a second home a better choice than letting a diversified portfolio do the heavy lifting of growing your wealth?
Over time, the markets are on a steady upward march. Even when there are corrections, it will eventually recover, but you can’t know for sure whether the vacation condo you purchase will increase in value. (And candidly, many of them don’t.)
Reward and risk go hand in hand, and you need to balance emotion with a heavy dose of analytics.
If you want to learn how to craft a financial plan and build wealth so you can retire earlier, reach out to me at email@example.com